This week not a lot got done in the garden besides watering and weeding. We had a busy week with the oldest daughter graduating from high school and Father’s Day so we were pretty occupied. We spent a lot of time doing maintenance type stuff […]
Month: June 2017
We have had some excitement in the garden this week. Our plants are continuing to grow super fast from our week of excellent sun and we harvested our first few strawberries. I got some more seedlings planted and we spent quite a bit of time weeding and cleaning up the back yard. Whew. It was a lot of work but well worth it in the end.
Our first ripe strawberries happened this week. Our daughter ate a few of them but the rest were stolen by our thieving squirrel. I had to chase him off twice and just now when I went out to turn on the soaker hose I discovered he had left a half ripe one on the sidewalk. Luckily we are all strawberried out from picking them last weekend so our daughter didn’t even notice. Usually she is way more on top of that sort of thing.
The lettuce in the top of our strawberry tower continues to flourish and our three year old continues to be the only one eating it. She spends most of her time in the front yard randomly telling me she is going to eat a piece and then running over there and chowing down. It is awesome because she will not eat lettuce in the house. We haven’t been eating a lot of salad lately and I honestly prefer romaine lettuce but I should really pick some of it so we can eat it. Maybe I will put some in my salad next week. I need to buy more seeds so I can do some succession planting. I have a long planter I want to fill with a variety of lettuce but just haven’t gotten around to.
Our apple tree has a couple of apples. I was really surprised since we planted it only a year ago. I thinned a few of the smaller ones but I am on the fence about the remaining ones. I have heard conflicting information about whether to leave apples on the tree before the third year and honestly I haven’t had time to look it up again to double check. So far of the 5 varieties on our combination tree the only two with fruit are the Gravenstein and the Gala. I will probably end up removing them. I think we also need to prune back our tree a bit since it is a little leggy so I will definitely have to read up on my apple tree care this week!
Our bush beans are doing well. I thinned them a bit after I took this picture but I am still having a hard time ripping seedlings out since they are all so healthy. I know that they will be too crowded though so eventually we will be down to about 4 based on the space available in the bed. I will continue to pull a couple out every week until we are at a good number.
Our carrots are doing ok. They are finally growing a little bit but not super fast. We didn’t have much luck with these seeds last year. There is a lot of room in this bed so I may grow some fast growing plants such as radishes on the edges while the beans and carrots grow since I am running out of room in my garden. I have heard that is a way to increase your crop yield but it may need more soil amending than I am ready to do.
Our broccoli seems to be having a hard time getting started. All of our seedlings are still small and a little leggy so I may start some other plants inside for crop succession since we eat a lot of broccoli. I am just really short on time and a little concerned that the garden will get away from me if I plant too much.
The luffa plants are in the ground with their trellis and doing well. I may have to guide them towards the trellis with some string but they have grown a couple of inches since I planted them a week ago which is fabulous!
So I am only partially certain these are both cucumbers. We may have mixed up our seedlings since I only labeled the front of the rows and I didn’t warn my husband when he brought me some and then I may have forgotten and mixed them up even further but hey, it will be a nice surprise later? I don’t have enough trellises so I planted these two along the fence hoping they would grow up the fence if they needed more space. I am quickly realizing we need a much bigger garden if we are to grow the amount of food I want to.
Our green beans are starting to come up under our tepee and I am really excited about it. The little kids are going to have a ton of fun sitting in there while I garden sneaking fresh green beans. I really with I had room for a bigger crop of green beans so that we could freeze a bunch but maybe next year.
Our squash continue to do well. The zucchini is really taking off. I was slightly crazy and planted my last zucchini plant so we have four total with a couple of yellow squash and possibly some spaghetti squash. That is a lot of squash for us. I put some Mylar firecracker decorations in the squash and pumpkin beds because I suspect the squirrel is eating some of the blossoms. I did some research and Mylar strips are supposed to keep both birds and squirrels out and we happened to be at the craft store and saw these with the Fourth of July decorations. They are pretty garish but I love them. Hopefully they work.
Both our Shortcake and our mystery raspberries are doing well. We have a number of berries on the larger variety and I am hoping I will be able to freeze some of them.
The blueberries continue to look delicious. I am really excited to eat them later this year!
My gigantic Hydrangea bushes in the front are covered in blossoms. They seem to have grown at least two feet in the last month as well and I can no longer get even close to trimming them back to a decent height. I am pretty sure I will be majorly chopping these back this year and probably won’t get any blossoms on them next year but I am ok with that because they are completely taking over the space and it is going to be a nightmare trimming all of those flowers. Last year there were probably a third of the blossoms and I spent several hours a week deadheading these bushes alone.
I thought I would post a picture of our small herb garden. We planted Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Sage last year. They Rosemary didn’t make it through the winter and I have yet to buy another plant. For some reason I keep not liking the ones I see in the store or they are tiny. We also have some garlic in there that we planted last spring that probably should have been harvested. I will probably pull one up at the end of the summer and see how they are doing. We are going to have to redo this section after a little bit since the plants are starting to crowd together.
I think the next few weeks will be interesting as the garden really starts to take off with the nicer weather. We are planning on removing all of the ivy in the back by mid-July so we can install our back fence. We have made some progress but there is quite a bit of it and we haven’t had time with all of the end of the school year stuff going on. I also really need to weed the side yards and start trimming all of the bushes that tend to overgrow. I need to move or find homes for several bushes in order to put the fence in and that will take some time as well.
What’s happening in your garden this week?
When my husband and I first started really looking into our food many years ago one of the first things we looked at was high fructose corn syrup. We discovered it was really difficult to buy jam without out it so we decided to try […]
My three year old developed a sudden interest in fishing last week. She somehow brought it up and was asking all about how fishing worked and if we could go. We had a birthday coming up in our family (plus Father’s Day) so my husband looked up some places and found one that would be perfect for us, you know, because the only one of us that has done any real fishing is the oldest daughter and that was when she was little with her grandparents. Needless to say we are as a whole, inexperienced when it comes to pulling wiggly fish out of the water so we chose a place that was all in one, guaranteed a catch and would gut and clean the fish for us. We are not squeamish about the whole gutting and cleaning part (we break down most of our own meat) but it was much more convenient for them to do it for us than to bring our knives and set up a station on our own. This place also had a separate pond for the fish that were to be caught so that they would taste cleaner and less muddy. I am not a fan of trout because every time I have eaten it all I can taste is pond water and it is really off putting so having the fish be cleaner tasting was something I was looking forward to.
The place we went to was pretty small, just a couple of ponds, and obviously family run. It was mostly for little kids to have the experience of catching fish without much of the waiting. There were a bunch of other little kids there shrieking and hollering every time they caught a fish and it was hilarious. The owners were genuinely happy that the kids were having such a good time which was awesome to see.
The girls walked around the pond deciding which fish we would catch while the owners explained the rules to us. Our son was too little so he just watched but he had a great time. He loves people watching and there was definitely new things for him to see.
My husband helped our daughter at first and they had a ton of fun. She is a total foodie and not squeamish at all when it involves where her food comes from. Since she was little she has known where her favorite food (chicken) comes from and she loves to eat all parts of it. I know when we get chickens if we ever slaughter them for food she will want to be involved in the whole process. Nevertheless we talked about how fishing would go for a couple of days before hand and went over how we would pull them out of the water and the people would cut them open for us so we could eat them. The whole possibility of catching her own food and cooking it was very exciting.
After a few tries we got the hang of it and caught our first fish!
We caught a total of three fish, the last being the biggest. They were feisty so I had to keep the net over the bucket so they didn’t escape. My son was a little nervous when the fish were jumping around but he was super curious.
While the lady gutted our fish we headed over to the feeder ponds to feed the little fish.
Our son loved feeding the fish. He very carefully picked up a couple of pieces of food and tossed them in over and over again. He is a total animal lover and is always trying to take care of our pets at home.
After picking up our fish we headed to a farm we had passed on the way to the fishing spot. Their gardens were open and we were able to walk around and look at how they were growing food in a sustainable manner. The kids loved to run around and show us all of the plants.
It was interesting to see some of the farming practices they used like this field. They did not till it but just dumped mounds of dirt over the grass and planted their seed starts. I would think the weeds would take over but it interested me enough to go back later in the season to see how they are doing. The farm also offered tours and maybe we can go back another time and learn about some of the things they are doing.
Our son was fascinated with their chickens. He loves animals so he spent a lot of time staring at them and telling us about them. It was really cute. Please ignore my finger in this photo. I was juggling a toddler, snacks and listening to our preschooler tell us about how people eat chickens while taking a picture…
At the end of our walk we went into the market and bought some local food. We bought asparagus for our fish dinner, some strawberries that we ate for snack and some pickled beets for my Dad for Father’s Day next weekend. It was a really nice end to our morning. We had a lot of fun and had some new experiences for the family. We love that we were able to show our kids where their food comes from and have the entire experience from farm to table. So many people do not understand the whole food chain these days although more people seem to be learning about it than when we first started cooking as much as we could from scratch. People thought we were slightly crazy for U-picking and making our own jam but now it is much more common. I am really excited for this year’s garden since it will be our first year of growing vegetables and our kids will be able to see the whole process from seed to table. Every day we go out and check on our plants and it makes it so much more real to our kids than just buying them in the store. I highly recommend growing even one or two plants in pots to everyone if a full garden seems overwhelming.
We grilled our fish and asparagus and ate it for dinner and the fish was cooked wonderfully by my husband. The asparagus was much better than what we usually get from Costco, probably because it had been picked that morning instead of however many days before. Today was a great experience for our family and I would definitely do it again!
What sorts of activities does your family do on family day?
We have always been big fans of hummus. For a long time we bought organic canned garbanzo beans and made hummus from those but we have been trying to make as much of our food from scratch as we can so about a year ago we switched to this recipe from Serious Eats and it is honestly the best hummus I have ever eaten! In a pinch you could still use canned garbanzo beans after the cooking step but the fresh ones are really much better tasting. We buy our garbanzo beans in bulk off of Amazon from a local company called Palouse Brand . They are made in Washington, non-GMO, organic and the best tasting garbanzo beans we have tried so far. We also order our Tahini in bulk from Amazon as well but I think you can find it in any grocery store. We just eat a lot of hummus so buying in bulk is much cheaper.
A few months ago we decided to both eat healthier and try to cut back on our grocery expenses so we could spend more money fixing up the house. One of the ways we have tried to accomplish this is to add beans to our diet. We tried refried beans, baked beans, adding canned beans to our dishes and hummus. Although we love all of the bean options we tried, making a batch of hummus every week was the easiest way for us to be consistent about it. We just soak the beans overnight on Saturday night and then my husband cooks them when we have time on Sunday. It doesn’t take long to cook and you can have it on another burner while you are cooking dinner to save time. I eat a hummus wrap for lunch most days with leftovers on the inside (to reduce food waste) and the kids love eating it with a spoon for an afternoon treat. You can also put it on crackers, toast with a runny fried egg for breakfast, dip vegetables in it or even add a little hot sauce and use it as a healthier dip for chips. We love hummus!
Put your beans into a bowl with double the volume of water and let soak overnight.
Soaked beans looking a little fluffier!
Drain your beans and place them into a pot with the baking soda. Cook for a few minutes then add your water and bring to a boil.
Skim off any foam or skins that pop up and cook for about 20-40 minutes until the beans are very tender but not mushy.
Drain your chickpeas and put into the food processor. Run it until you get a stiff paste.
While it is still running add your lemon, tahini, garlic and salt. Then slowly add your ice water and run for another 5 minutes until the hummus is smooth and creamy.
And there you have it! Super smooth hummus ready to eat! This week when we made it the kids ate a bunch of it still warm from the food processor with spoons. It was great to see them enjoying such a healthy snack!
Hummus by Serious Eats
Make delicious hummus from scratch!
- 1.5 cups dried chickpeas
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 6.5 cups water
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp light tahini sauce
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 1/2 tablespoons/100 ml ice-cold water
- Step 1 The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.
- Step 2 The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.
- Step 3 Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups/600 g now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.
- Step 4 Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.